Resurrection

I once mentioned to a farmer’s wife how the resurrection was a challenge to our faith. Christian teaching about resurrection teaches us that death becomes new life in which we are completely transformed, including our bodies. What that could mean was beyond our understanding, I said, and I did not know how to speak about it. She listened and then chuckled. No, she said, she did not find it hard to believe at all. Every spring she and her husband ploughed bare fields and scattered seed. Who could believe that these tiny things would become a field of waving corn? And so, she said, she had no trouble in believing in a wonderful transformation of the body in which we would live in a new and eternal way in God’s presence, through the work of Christ. If humble corn seed could change in that way, surely God could do even greater things with us who were made in his image.

She was right, of course, and I found it a very helpful analogy. And as I thought about it I realised that we could take it even further. That same field of corn would be harvested and turned into flour and become many loaves of bread. It would nourish many people. What started off as tiny seed would become life for a multitude of people. It is for me an image of how Christ’s resurrection is already a living reality among us. He who was dead and lay in the earth was raised to life and becomes hope, encouragement, and inspiration for many people here and now, all over the world. He is our nourishment and our life. And one day, in his mercy, that promise of life will be fulfilled for eternity in the light of God’s presence and the company of the saints.

There is a truth here that is both public and hidden at the same time. It is public because it is too significant to be kept secret. In both gospels we find Mary of Magdala running from the tomb to tell the news that Christ is risen (Matt. 28.8; John 20.2). From now on this will be a public, shared knowledge: the knowledge that God can touch anyone who believes in Christ and asks for life. And yet, what it means is partly hidden. Hidden, because this wonderful reality will be like a seed growing, slowly , invisibly, in the depths of each of us. As we read in Colossians ‘the life you have is hidden with Christ in God’ (Col. 3.3). Only when we enter eternity will we know what the risen Christ has been working through the power of his resurrection. The fallen is lifted up, the old made new and the flawed is brought to perfection.

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